Australian Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Scott Morrison MP, participated in a keel laying ceremony on March 31st for the sixth Cape Class Patrol Boat being manufactured at Austal’s Henderson shipyard in Western Australia.
The vessel, Cape Leveque, is the sixth of eight Cape Class Patrol Boats being built by Austal for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service under a design, construct and in-service support contract valued at approximately $330 million.
The first-in-class Cape Class Patrol Boat, Cape St George, was delivered to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service in April 2013. A second vessel, the Cape Byron, is undergoing sea trials and is expected to be delivered in the next two months. All eight vessels are on track to be delivered by August 2015, in line with the contract.
The keel laying ceremony is a time honoured shipbuilding tradition where three specially minted coins are placed under a keel block as a symbol of good fortune and to bless the ship. These coins will be removed just prior to the patrol boat’s launch.
The three coins for the Cape Leveque keel laying ceremony were placed by Minister Morrison; Austal Chairman John Rothwell AO; and Customs and Border Protection Regional Commander WA Rod O’Donnell.
At the ceremony Minister Morrison commended Austal for achieving the project to date on time and on budget.
“The reason that we’re doing this here is not through any act of generosity to Austal; we’re doing it because they know how to do a good job,” he said.
“They’re a competitive outfit that knows about product and knows about service, and they know about partnership in working together with government to deliver up these major programs.”
Austal Chief Executive Officer Andrew Bellamy said the Cape Class contract had cemented Austal’s position as global defence prime contractor and it was pleasing to be able to demonstrate the capability of both Austal and its aluminium vessels to Australia’s Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and to Prime Minister Tony Abbott when he introduced the Cape St George into service in Darwin in October 2013.
“At present our shipbuilding yard at Henderson is at full Cape Class production levels,” Mr Bellamy said.
“Through superior design and skilled workmanship we are providing vessels on time and within budget, and, according to feedback from Customs and Border Protection, that class of vessel is exceeding their high operational expectations.
“In addition, the construction of the Cape Class vessels underpins both Austal’s domestic/export demand model for Australian shipbuilding and the 500 skilled employees at our Henderson operation.”
As part of the $330 million contract, Austal will also perform ongoing in-service support for the Cape Class fleet over at least eight years, encompassing a full range of intermediate and depot level maintenance activities, valued at a minimum of $50 million.
The Cape Class Patrol Boats have been designed and constructed to provide greater range, endurance and flexibility, as well as enhanced capability to operate in more severe sea conditions, than the current Customs and Border Protection Bay Class fleet and the Royal Australian Navy Armidale Class fleet.
Each of the vessels is named after a cape from each state and territory.
In addition to its role as a defence prime contractor in Australia, Austal is also prime contractor for two major US defence projects – the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and the Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) – for the United States Navy.
Austal has manufactured and delivered 69 defence vessels, including 41 boats for other Australian agencies.
Press Release, April 2, 2014; Image: Austal